Australia! Story Country
G’Day! Inspired by the 2016 Children’s Book Week theme: “Australia! Story Country”, this week’s storytime theme is also Australia. Story books abound on iconic Australian animals, the Australian bush and outback Australia. Thus choosing only three to review was difficult, but here they are:
I couldn’t go past this classic Australian story, which is as Australian as meat pies and Vegemite. Possum Magic is an award-winning picture book by Australian author Mem Fox. The two main characters are Grandma Poss and Hush. Grandma has used bush magic to make Hush invisible to protect her from the dangers lurking in the Australian bush. But one day Hush decides she would like to be visible again. In true Aussie style, it isn’t until Hush eats a Vegemite sandwich that her wish begins to come true. Filled with humour and magic this is a heartwarming journey through Australian geography and Australian cuisine. The illustrations are vibrant and endearing.
This is a great story to read aloud, as well as a fun introduction to some of Australia’s native animals. The main character is a very hot dingo named Danny. Set on a sweltering summer’s day, Danny just wants to cool down. He looks to the other bush animals for ideas. He tries running like the emu, jumping like the kangaroo, flying like an eagle and making a frill like Lizard’s. But Danny only feels hotter. The other animals are puzzled by Danny’s strange prancing, jumping and leaping, until some storm clouds roll in. As rain starts to fall, the animals are convinced they have Danny’s rain dance to thank!
The kookaburra is an iconic and easily recognisable Australian bird. Based on a true story, Jeremy is about an oh-so-cute baby kookaburra who falls out of his nest. He is brought home by the family cat and cared for by the family. Luckily, Jeremy is a fighter. As the weeks go by he grows stronger and stronger. When Jeremy is big enough it is time for the family to say goodbye. Jeremy is released into the wild to live as nature intended. This book is beautifully illustrated by Danny Snell. Snell’s illustrations easily capture the character of this favourite Australian bird.
A Rhyme or Two
Jump, jump, jump (Jump)
Goes the kangaroo. (Jump)
I thought only one – (Hold up one finger)
But now I see two! (Hold up two fingers)
Mummy and her baby
With his head popping out (Wiggle thumb between index and middle finger)
He holds on tight
As they jump all about! (Jump all about)
Thanks to one of the greats of Australian children’s literature, Alison Lester, there is a new dog on the farm – Bigsy!
An Aussie farmer had a dog
And Bigsy was his name-O!
And Bigsy was his name-O!
Did You Know?
Australia is well known as the home of many fascinating native animals. In particular, kangaroos, koalas and deadly snakes. Speaking of snakes, all ten of the top ten most venomous snakes come from Australia. This includes the world’s most venomous snake, the inland taipan. One bite from this deadly snake contains enough venom to kill 100 grown men.
A Crafty Idea
Many Australians love to go camping. While camping in the bush it is a tradition to sit around a campfire, sharing stories and song. It is also common to toast marshmallows by the campfire. And this kangaroo cup is just right for putting your marshmallows in!
Draw or copy a picture of a kangaroo onto card. Cut out. Tape or glue a paper cup to the front of the kangaroo to be the kangaroo’s pouch. Cut a piece of self-adhesive felt into the shape of a pouch and stick to the front of the paper cup. Now fill your cup with marshmallows!
Reading for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of a child. Happy reading!
With so many wonderful picture books with an Australian theme out there, please let me know your favourites. Diary of a Wombat, It’s a Miroocool, Kick With My Left Foot, Are We There Yet? and Wombat Stew are just a few more that come to mind.